Bryant Park at Dusk

Floodlights have flared on behind and above
              Where I sit in my public chair.
The lawn that had gradually darkened has brightened.
              The library windows stare.

I’m alone in a crowd—e pluribus plures.
              Far from a family I miss.
I’d almost say I’m lonely, but lonely
              Is worse, I recall, than this.

Loneliness is a genuine poverty.
              I’m like a man who is flush
But forgot his wallet on the nightstand
              When he left for work in a rush,

And now must go without food and coffee
              For a few hours more than he’d wish.
That’s all. He still has a wallet. It’s bulging.
              It floats through his brain like a fish...

Money for love: a terrible simile,
              But maybe it’s fitting here,
A couple of blocks from Madison Avenue
              Where commodities are dear,

Where all around me, rich skyscrapers
              Woo the impoverished sky,
Having sent on their way the spent commuters
              Who stream, uncertain, by—

And as for this whole splurge of a city,
              Isn’t money at its heart?
But I’m blathering now. Forgetting my subject.
              What I meant to say at the start

Is that I noticed a woman reading
              In a chair not far from mine.
Silver-haired, calm, she stirred a hunger
              Hard for me to define,

Perhaps because she doesn’t seem lonely.
              And what I loved was this:
The way, when dusk had darkened her pages,
              As if expecting a kiss,

She closed her eyes and threw her head back,
              Book open on her lap.
Perhaps she was thinking about her story,
              Or the fall air, or a nap.

I thought she’d leave me then for pastimes
              More suited to the dark.
But she is on intimate terms, it seems,
              With the rhythms of Bryant Park,

For that’s when the floodlights came on, slowly,
              Somewhere far above my need,
And the grass grew green again, and the woman
              Reopened her eyes to read.

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Bryant Park at Dusk